While bookmarks or favorites have been part of pretty much every browser from the beginning, the same functionality is generally used for all 3 normal uses of “bookmarks”:
- I like this page and want to be able to find it again at some point in the future.
- I visit this page regularly.
- Do something with the page I’m currently viewing.
The first category is the one that’s usually brought up when using sites like delicious. That site or one like it is what I suggest for fulfilling that need. These are usually sites that you aren’t committed to putting any effort into organizing bookmarks for. I used to use the browser bookmark functionality for this, but found that it just ended up being a 2000+ link pile that was impossible to find things in. Those social bookmark have tagging and better organizational tools that tend to make doing the organizing easier.
That said, I would like to lower the barrier for adding a new site. Prior to using the social bookmarking sites, I just hit CTRL+D and called it a day. That’s really all the effort I usually want to put into it. I’d really like a service that grabbed any Technorati tags, hit Yahoo for keyword analysis and save that metadata along with the text of the page as the bookmark. But, that’s another issue from what I’m talking about today.
With the save-it-for-later stuff taken care of by a social bookmarking service, I thought I’d share some tips for using the Firefox bookmark tools to handle the other 2 categories.
- Use Keywords
In the Properties of a Firefox bookmark, whatever you put into the “keyword” field can be used as an address bar shortcut to the bookmark. I can type in “adsense” or “gmail” or “subscribe” and the appropriate site or action happens. This works particularly well for sites I use constantly.
- Make the Personal Toolbar Truly Personal
The personal toolbar folder is set up by default with a bunch of common sites. This toolbar is prime real estate and shouldn’t be wasted on links that the Firefox Foundation thinks you need. Make it your own by putting it to work on those 2 bookmark categories.
- Use Folders
I’ve set all of my Personal Toolbar setups to actually contain a bunch of folders instead of just links. This gives you room for lots of links without taking lots of space. The net result is that I’ve got an entire personal menu of the most useful links. The folders I use are:
- Frequent Sites - this contains stuff like the script that sends my RSS feeds to email and the script that generates Sokkit keys for people who’ve lost theirs.
- Current Page - this contains links for acting on the current page: RSS subscribe (see the “subscribe” keyword), bookmark on delicious, etc.
- Bookmarklets - this contains a big pile of bookmarklets. Some of these should probably move to the Current Page entry. However, these are more script oriented, like “retrieve RSS URL” or “Email to Friend”.
- Blogging - this one contains a folder for each blog I own/operate. Inside that are URL’s for administration and for creating a new posts as well as various feeds for topic mining (see tip 5).
- Feeds - This contains feeds of current events news, headlines, my Netflix queue, etc. The kind of stuff that I want to keep tabs on without resorting to a real RSS reader.
- Work - this one contains a directory for each project I’m working on at work for things like documentation, message boards, time reporting, etc.
The rest of the space is used for links I’m likely to use regularly for a few days (like links for an upcoming vacation). Thus far, I haven’t needed more space than is available here.
- Use the Foxmarks Extension
The Foxmarks extension lets you put all of the work you’re putting into your bookmark organization onto each and every computer you use. Rearrange on the office computer and the home computer picks up the changes.
- Put Feeds Into Your Toolbar
Firefox calls them “Live Bookmarks”, but you can put any RSS feed into your bookmarks. Whenever you see the little orange icon in the address bar, you can just click it and add the feed wherever you want, including the folders of your Personal Toolbar.
- Bonus Tip - If you use the bookmarks in the sidebar, your newly organized hierarchy of folders is easy to navigate and use.
Put this all together and the bookmark facilities in Firefox get a chance to stretch their legs and get put to work.